The Expatriated Patriots Fan: Reflections on the Dolphins game


Sep 7, 2014; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins tight end Dion Sims (80) cant make the catch as New England Patriots outside linebacker Jamie Collins (91) defends in the second half at Sun Life Stadium. Miami won 33-20. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

The Expatriated Patriots Fan: Views and News from Outside New England

Reflections on the Pats @ Dolphins game.

Well, I am glad that is over. Really, that is my uppermost thought. But I have a few others to share as well.

While I don’t have much good to take away from the game, it may not be as bad as all that.

Yeah, the Pats stunk up the game pretty bad. In almost all phases of it. And to a team that is not supposed to be elite. But the Dolphins always seem to play the Patriots tough. Last year, they lost twice after the bye on the way to the AFC championship. One was to the Panther’s on a highly disputed non call. The other was, yep, the Dolphins.

Heck, 10 years ago, the Patriots were in the midst of putting together a 14-2 Superbowl season. One loss was to the Steelers. The other the Dolphins. At least the game in Miami is now out of the way. As I said, I am glad that is over.

And as many people keep point out, the last time the Pats lost a season opener, they won the Superbowl. (I’ll take that trade …)

Not to say it is ok.

You want to get all the wins you can, and being at the bottom of the division is an odd feeling for the pats. Plus there were some obvious issues that need working on.

The defense can’t stop the run.

But some of it was the scheme. The Patriots opened up in the 3-4 and stuck to it despite the poor results. This surprised a lot of folks, myself included, as they don’t have the personnel for it. If you are going to run a 3-4, you need players that can double gap. (Cover two gaps) Vince Wilfork can double gap, covering both A gaps. But he really is the only member of the front seven who reliably can now. Chandler Jones is a great edge rusher, but putting him in as a 3-4 end gives him two much to handle, instead of just focusing on getting after the QB. He isn’t built to be shedding double-teams. And as much as I hate to say it, the absence of run stuffer Brandon Spikes was also noticed yesterday.

Maybe with they will revert back to the 4-3 for the next game, where the personnel for it. With Adrian Peterson on deck, I certainly hope so.

The O-Line can’t stop the Rush.

I am not as certain what happened here. There were some questions about the O-Line going in, and the last minute trade of Mankins certainly didn’t help. But I still didn’t expect the level of collapse that happened, especially in the second half. At times, the pocket started collapsing as soon as the ball was snapped. This is the NFL. Any line should be able to hold for a second or two. But they gave up 4 sacks in the second half alone, and Brady seemed to never have time to really survey the field. Plus the line seemed totally unable to open running lanes as well. Hopefully newly hired offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo will get this sorted out by Sunday. At least it couldn’t go much worse.

The secondary wasn’t that bad.

Granted, this was not the new and improved D we wanted to see. But much of that came from being unable to stop the run. Knowshon Moreno had his way with the front 7. (as noted above) Tannehill’s passing stats were actually quite modest, finishing with only 178 yards and a 56% completion percentage. I know all universe defensive back Revis got toasted twice, but overall his performance was actually pretty good, and as he continues to gel with the Patriots defense, I expect it will get better. Patrick Chung turned in a better than expected job at secondary as well.

Brady needs to up his game.

I am one who believes the demise of Tom Brady has been greatly exaggerated. But he isn’t going to quiet any critics with performances like last Sunday’s. While some of it can be attributed to the poor line play, including a lot of interior pressure, (one of Brady’s known weaknesses) he still had some faults of his own. The two most obvious are that he needs to work on his deep ball accuracy, (although the one pass to Edelman certainly was hopeful) and he needs to stop forcing to Gronk. I am probably almost as happy as Brady is to have Gronk in the line-up (even if he looks like he is wearing a suit of medieval armor) but the best results will come when he goes back to his habit of throwing to the open receiver. When he forces, bad things happen and the offense becomes predictable. In Gronk’s first game back last year, against the Jet’s, Brady targeted him 14 times, many of them forced, and we lost. Let’s hope that’s out of his system now.

In the next article, I will present my thoughts on the upcoming match up with the Vikings and our old Friend Matt Cassel.